The Boy and the Spy by Felice Arena

Felice Arena has lots of fans across all year levels at our school who have enjoyed reading his books including Specky Magee, Andy Roid, Stick Dudes and his recent Sporty Kids series. 

This year Felice will take his older readers on a thrilling adventure set in Sicily in World War II with his new historical fiction novel called The Boy and the Spy. As a ‘rota’, his main character Antonio does not have an easy life in the town where he lives with Mamma Nina. When Antonio encounters a spy who needs his help he is caught up in the world of spies and freedom fighters where courage and quick thinking are required if he is to survive.

Last Wednesday the Year Fives were very lucky to be the first students to hear Felice talk about his new novel. They learned that it was a conversation with his parents about life in Italy before they emigrated to Australia that sparked the idea for The Boy and the Spy. 

Authors use different strategies to help them with their writing and Felice shared two of his. He played some pieces of music he listened to when writing that helped him create the tone of the story. Then he showed us images he used to create a visual story board to help him to visualise and plan his ideas. Authors of historical novels also need to do research to ensure the information in their story is accurate. Some of Felice’s research included learning about Morse Code and the students had fun creating some Morse Code with him…in not quite the traditional way! 

Felice then read the first chapter of his novel and you could have heard a pin drop in our library. There is something very special about listening to an author read their own words as they breathe life into their story. The first chapter was very dramatic and left everyone wanting to hear more…a perfect way to introduce your new book to readers! 

I went home that night and read my copy of The Boy and the Spy and didn’t put it down until I had finished it! I’m not going to give too much away except to say…I felt like I was there with Antonio and held my breath as he carried out some of his daring plans to help the spy and hoped he wouldn’t be caught; admired the freedom fighters who risked their lives; drooled at the descriptions of the sweet sugary pastries at Pasticceria Antica; shed some tears both happy and sad and loved the way little pieces throughout the story came together like a jigsaw puzzle at the end. Now I hope Felice will also tell Simonetta’s story one day just as well as he has written Antonio’s. I sent this tweet to Felice…

Thank you for visiting us Felice and enjoy sharing The Boy and the Spy with students across Australia! I know that our students are going to enjoy reading it…

Our Yeo-Low Medal Award 2016

Today was our second Yeo-Low Medal Award and an exciting day for the 73 students who completed the Reading Scavenger Hunt for our 2016 Yeo-Low Medal.

A rainy day forecast changed our school’s usual Footy Day plans so I decided to hold our Yeo-Low Medal Award in the library with our author friend Adrian Beck. Little did we know Adrian had a surprise for us and had invited Felice Arena along as well. How lucky were we to have two of our favourite authors in our library!!

Our Yeo-Low Medal readers should be VERY proud of their efforts to complete this year’s Reading Scavenger Hunt. Between them they have read over 600 books by Australian authors! I added a creative element this year and our library is currently a gallery of their creative work including cakes, Anzac biscuits, models, posters, poems, drawings, story cubes and book reviews about the books they have read.

During our award ceremony Adrian serenaded us with a song; we enjoyed sharing some of our creative work; people crossed their fingers hoping their name would be drawn for the Indigenous football (or two mini footballs) or that they were going to be presented with the Yeo-Low Medal this year. After cheering our winners, Felice had everyone up on their feet celebrating their fabulous reading efforts with his ‘Umpire Dance’. Today was a wonderful reminder that reading is fun!

Thank you so much Adrian and Felice for being so generous with your time and helping us to celebrate our Yeo-Low Medal Award. We are the luckiest school library in Australia!!

Here are some photos from our day….

A Sporty Kids surprise in the mail

On Wednesday when I checked my blue tub for messages, I found a package addressed to me and when I flipped it over the sender was Felice Arena!

What a surprise to find a copy of Felice’s latest Sporty Kids books, Handball and Tennis and some bookmarks!

Felice also signed both of our books with a message. Here is our Handball book with one of Felice’s fans (who has some ideas of his own for some more Sporty Kids books)…

I wish Felice could have heard the cheers and excitement when I showed the Year Twos our copies of his books on Thursday in their library classes! We voted on which book to read and decided on the Handball book. We laughed in one class when two of the main characters, Luca and Stefan were actually sitting on the floor next to each other!! What are the chances of that happening?

Felice has a great way of pacing his stories and building excitement in his Sporty Kids books. The Year Twos listened with baited breath waiting to see if Luca would defeat Vinny Ping the Handball King in their handball challenge. They were also reminded of the importance of being a good sport when you are both a winner and a loser.

Each Year Two class then rated Felice’s Handball book out of five and we tweeted him our photos…

Thank you for our Sporty Kids books Felice and for making reading fun!

Now we need to decide on a fun challenge for students who would like to win one of Felice’s bookmarks. If you have an idea please write it in the comments section…

An Author Afternoon Tea

As a teacher librarian, Twitter is an invaluable way to keep up to date with all things ‘books’, but for me the real value and joy is being able to connect with authors and in turn connect our students too. Connecting through Twitter with the four fabulous authors in this blog post has enriched both our reading and library program in ways I had never imagined…

I was excited to read on Twitter that The Little Bookroom in Carlton was hosting an Author Afternoon Tea on March 3rd and quickly sent my RSVP so I would have an opportunity to catch up with Jacqueline Harvey, Adrian Beck, Felice Arena and Tristan Bancks together in the one place.

It was a treat to be at The Little Bookroom to hear these fabulous authors talk about their books, answer questions and chat about bookish things…

When four authors get together you can’t miss the opportunity to take…

an Author Selfie…

Did you know…

Here is some of the latest news about each of the authors from the Author Afternoon Tea and a reminder of the ways we have been lucky to connect with them.

Jacqueline Harvey has two new books out for her popular Alice Miranda and Clementine Rose series. Click on the book covers to read some of each story…

Jacqueline has recorded the first five Alice Miranda books as audio books for Audible. Now Jacqueline can read to you! (Check with your parents if you want to subscribe)

Who would have thought Jacqueline would have written so many books including two successful book series since she visited our library on her book tour for her first Alice Miranda book in March 2012!

We know Adrian Beck is co-author of the Kick it to Nick series with Shane Crawford, but Adrian is also about to launch a new book in May for the Stuff Happens series and his character Dale also shares his red coloured hair! We can’t wait for this book!

Adrian is now the executive producer of Kids WB and it’s great to see lots of children’s authors talking about their books on the show. (Stay tuned because Jacqueline and Tristan will be on the show in the next few weeks).

We had lots of fun with Adrian last year when he came up with the brilliant idea of the Yeo-low Medal reading competition for our school and wore his ‘best’ suit to present the Yeo-Low Medal to our winners. We’re going to read for the Yeo-Low Medal again this year Adrian!

Felice Arena and his Sporty Kids series have been a big hit at our school. The Year Ones had fun tweeting about the books with Felice last year as we read them and Felice recently made a surprise visit to see these students this year. We are looking forward to his Handball and Basketball books coming out very soon! Felice told us he has recently finished writing an historical fiction novel for older readers that will be coming out in February 2017. 

Last year our school was incredibly lucky to have authors Felice Arena, Adrian Beck and Michael Wagner perform their Kicking Goals for Readers  AFL footy show for us. It was such a fun way to celebrate books and footy!

Tristan Bancks is the author of the very funny My Life series that lots of our students enjoy reading. His newest book My Life and Other Exploding Chickens is out now and I laughed out loud reading about the Ninja Librarians (I might have sorted out my Book Week costume early this year)!

Tristan loves having his readers contribute to his stories and if you want to add an idea for his next story about nits (yes nits!!) for his next book you can do so HERE.

I was lucky to meet Tristan and see his presentation at the 2015 Children’s Book Festival . Last year At their Sleepover, the Year Fours squirmed a lot while listening to ‘Scab’ from Tristan’s book My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up that I read for their Bedtime Story in the LRC.

#ReadingIsFun

 

Year Two’s surprise visit from Felice Arena

Last year (when they were in Year One), the Year Two classes had lots of fun tweeting and connecting with author Felice Arena as we read the books in his Sporty Kids series. So this year Felice and I had a surprise for them! This morning the three Year Two classes came to the library with their teachers thinking I wanted to have a serious talk to them. You can imagine their surprise (and I think some of them were a bit shocked) when Felice appeared! 

What a wonderful hour the Year Twos spent with Felice! They had fun silently cheering on their very own Specky Magee in slow motion. Everyone listened closely as Felice read his Swimming book from Sporty Kids and some students even knew the story off by heart! Felice told them about some of the other books he has written including Specky Magee, Andy Roid, Farticus Maximus (lots of laughs talking about this), Stick Dudes and his picture book Sally and Dave, A Slug Story (which translates differently in Chinese!). He also revealed that he had been an Art teacher and actor before becoming an author. Felice explained that listening to music as he wrote his latest book for older readers helped him think about the setting, plot and mood for his story. He played some of this music and asked students what they were thinking as they heard the music. I think we might have some budding writers in Year Two because their responses were very closely connected to Felice’s new book!

Thank you Felice for coming to visit the Year Twos, and for bringing your books to life and making reading fun!

Here are some photos from Felice’s surprise visit…